Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

August 20, 1958

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.

Ladies and gentlemen, anticipating questions about this recent decision of the Eighth Circuit Court, I am going to read a little statement, and there will be copies of it available to you, so you don't have to take specific notes.

[Reads statement. for text, see Item 214, page 631.]

I will have nothing further to say about the integration problems and specific cases that are now before the courts--not only in this one particular case; there are four others--but we will have to wait for the outcome of decisions and actions before any further comment.

Q. Edward J. Milne, Providence Evening Journal: Mr. President, do you have any plans or hopes to get back to Newport for a vacation this year?

THE PRESIDENT. Someone suggested that I might be asked this question, and I am considering now asking for a little consultative committee made up of press people that usually accompany me--ask them what their convictions will be, because I have none. I don't know whether I can go or not.

Q. Donald H. Shannon, Los Angeles Times: Mr. President, we have had reports from Vice President Nixon, the Senate minority leader, and yesterday the Republican Party Chairman that they expect that you will be making campaign trips this fall, and we would like to know if you have anything definite in mind yet, especially as far as getting out.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no plans as of this moment that are detailed at all, and no specific projects that I want to carry through. I think it would be unusual if I didn't have something to say during the fall; but, of course, I have no plans.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, do you think that the unanimous agreement at Geneva on the means of detecting nuclear tests provides a significant piece of preparation for a Summit conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, to take the specific part of your question, I can't say that it of itself becomes a sufficient preparation for a Summit meeting.

But I say this: the progress there has been most encouraging. After all, we are looking for every kind of constructive step that does allow this Government to take into consideration new steps that could, of course, finally lead to Summit meetings that are properly prepared and could be productive.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, can we make any international agreement to stop nuclear tests without including Red China?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have never had the question put in that way to me specifically; but I would say yes, we can make international tests unlawful, agree to cease them, all of the countries that are participating in the agreement would have to obey it.

Now, if we didn't, we wouldn't have to put in Mexico either, you see.

In other words, the other side doesn't have to say every country of the free world would be included. We wouldn't necessarily have to say all the others. But I think that the terms--the agreement would have to be one in which we have confidence that this thing could not be, let's say, abused, or we would have then to do something else.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, at your last press conference you told us that your associates were checking to see if Mao Tse-tung was helping to shape Soviet Summit policy--do you remember, we talked about that--and I wondered if they had reported back to you or if you feel that Red China is calling the shots on Soviet policy?

THE PRESIDENT. No, we have no evidence that he is doing it.

Now, we have had reports of comments that are made in the Kremlin and in Moscow, where there has been some rather vociferous denials of that allegation. But I would hesitate to make a real guess on it.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. President, I would like to return to this matter of your vacationing, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. So would I, if I could. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. von Fremd: There has been some mounting speculation among our colleagues in the west wing lobby to the effect that you might not go to Newport or Denver or some place else, but, instead, stay at Gettysburg. Is that a possibility?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is always a possibility, yes.

Frankly, I would rather get into a little bit more salubrious climate for late August and early September. I don't know exactly what it will be practicable to do. I am still keeping up the hope that I will go somewhere, but otherwise it would be very--put it this way: I cannot give you any specific answer to the question this morning.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, can you say, sir, whether we have given Britain any assurances that we will not pull out of Lebanon until she is ready and able to pull out of Jordan?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think there is any specific agreement of that character.

Q. Carleton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, at your last press conference you told us that you would be willing to talk with Governor Almond of Virginia about the public school crisis that is approaching. Has he responded with a request for such a conference?

THE PRESIDENT. No, but there have been one or two political figures from Virginia that have agreed with me we would like to talk some of these things over, but so far we just haven't gotten the opportunity.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: In your speech before the General Assembly in New York you proposed that a United Nations peace force be set up to help nations which might request such assistance. Reports from New York since then indicate that there is very little chance that this proposal will be approved at this current emergency session of the Assembly. Do you intend to press this proposal as a matter of urgency later?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe you can keep the thing on the urgent basis too long.

Now, I should like to call your attention to the fact that as long ago as 1947 I was working over in the Pentagon in the composition of the American contingent for the United Nations peace force.

This thing has always been up to the fore, most people believing that if the United Nations is going to be truly effective in many instances, it ought to have something of that kind. Also, there was the hope that if that could develop then possibly there would be lesser need for security forces and the armament race. But it is one of those things that I think has to develop and to come about with the growth of commonsense and a little bit greater spirit of tolerance among nations. I think it is a very fine thing. I think it is one of those things that probably will not be done exactly at this moment.

Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: Sir, what chances do you think your economic proposals for the Middle East have in lieu of the present climate of the United Nations debate, and also is it possible that these economic achievements could be attained through the previous idea of an Arab development bank?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think there are alternatives there. I mean, I actually proposed that there be an Arab development association which we would support.

Now, as I understand it, most of the Asian and African comment is that they would be very much for that. They have certain preconditions they want to set down before this can come about. But I think that this whole proposition of dealing with areas sometimes, because the problems transcend national boundaries, must be one that we have got to look at more closely than in the past.

In the economic field we have dealt completely on a bilateral nationalistic basis, and I think that possibly there is coming about a reason, like the Mid-East and others, where we might be better advised to attempt to use some collective organization.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, as you know, sir, there has been a good deal of discussion in the United Nations on the terms of the resolution which is under consideration. In this connection, would you find acceptable a resolution which used the term "early withdrawal of American forces from Lebanon"?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Wilson, I don't believe I should give a final decision on the exact words because, as you know, the Norwegian resolution says "Noting the British and American declaration of intention," and so on, then their declaration goes on into substantive parts about the Mid-East development, and so on.

Now, we have said we want to come out just as quickly as the local government says they don't need us; secondly, when and in the event that the United Nations say they are prepared to take the responsibility for peace and order. So, in any event, we would hope to come out early. But I do think that in the absence of proper resolutions and arrangements, why, I should not now use any word expressing a unilateral intention so to do.

Q. Mr. Wilson: Could I ask you one more question on that?


Q. Mr. Wilson: If the date September 30th was used in the resolution as the date on which the Secretary General would make a report to the General Assembly, could I ask if you would assume that under the proper conditions, U. S. forces might be withdrawn from Lebanon by that date?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think that is just speculative. I would have to wait for developments on that.

Q. Dayton Moore, United Press International: Mr. President, some time ago you indicated that you would limit your active campaigning for Republican congressional candidates on the basis of whether they supported your major legislation where, I think, you mentioned reciprocal trade, foreign aid, and the Defense reorganization bills.

Do you still intend to do that? And along that line, there was a story in the Detroit paper last week that because Senator Potter had criticized Governor Adams that you wouldn't campaign for him in Michigan.

THE PRESIDENT. I have never specifically stated that any one man's

one vote or one expression was going to put him forever in a category that I could not support.

Now, I have very strongly stated that the Defense reorganization, the renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Act, and a strong mutual security bill were, in my opinion, absolutely vital to the welfare of this country.

Therefore, anywhere I found myself completely at loggerheads with these projects with a man, I would not consider we belonged really in the same local political camp; that is all there is to it.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, the FBI reported recently that the crime rate in this country is at a record rate, and still increasing. Now, in connection with the crime problem, the various State legislatures, from time to time, and even the federal Government, consider proposals to put new restrictions on the ownership and use of firearms by civilians. Do you personally believe that more restrictions are needed at the federal, State, or local level in connection with this problem?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you what I would have to do with that. I would have to discuss it with local police forces in order to have a worthwhile opinion of my own, because I am not familiar with their statistics as to the incidence of crime as related to the freedom of acquisition of this kind of weapon.

Now, my own instant reaction would be, well, if there weren't so many of these weapons around, why, maybe you could be a little more peaceful; but I would certainly want to find what the local police forces and the FBI want to tell me.

Q. J. Anthony Lewis, New York Times: Sir, I hope this does not run into your injunction about questions on school cases, and courts.

You have made your position perfectly clear today, as you did last year, sir, on the importance of supporting final federal court orders.

I just wondered whether you would talk to us at all about your own personal feeling on the principle involved, basically the principle of school integration, and whether you believe there should--you personally favor the beginning of an end to segregated schools?

THE PRESIDENT. I have always declined to do that for the simple reason that here was something that the Supreme Court says, "This is the direction of the Constitution, this is the instruction of the Constitution"; that is, they say, "This is the meaning of the Constitution."

Now, I am sworn to one thing, to defend the Constitution of the United States, and execute its laws. Therefore, for me to weaken public opinion by discussion of separate cases, where I might agree or might disagree, seems to me to be completely unwise and not a good thing to do.

I have an oath; I expect to carry it out. And the mere fact that I could disagree very violently with a decision, and would so express myself, then my own duty would be much more difficult to carry out I think. So I think it is just not good business for me to do so.

Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown Times: Mr. President, how do you assess the fact that Congress, I think for the first time since you have become President, has passed a farm bill tailored so closely to administration farm policy?

THE PRESIDENT. Because, I think, they are learning that the policies that have been so urgently argued for by Secretary Benson have got a lot of sense in them and they are beginning to see that it is having a good effect in the country.

Q. Andrew F. Tully, Jr., Scripps-Howard: Mr. President, the other day Bernard Baruch suggested that the National Security Council be expanded to include various persons with government experience in the past, including living former Presidents.

THE PRESIDENT. Who said this?

Q. Mr. Tully: Bernard Baruch suggested it the other day.


Q. Mr. Tully: Do you think there is any likelihood, sir, of your ever employing the services of Mr. Truman in any capacity?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, why, of course, you could. After all, he has had a very great and tough experience of his own.

I would not answer any question that was specifically directed to a personality. I think when you come to talking about the expanding of the National Security Council, we want to remember this one thing: the National Security Council, like any other body that surrounds the President, is for advisory purposes. You cannot get away from the fact that the President has to make the decisions.

Now, therefore, the President is free to call upon anybody, indeed, as I have frequently, on eider statesmen, on sometimes organized and sometimes unorganized bodies, to come and consult. So I see no need for expanding the Security Council as such.

Q. Alice A. Dunnigan, Associated Negro Press: Mr. President, would you care to comment on newspaper stories that the White House has asked J. Ernest Wilkins to resign his post as Assistant Secretary of Labor to make his position available to Mr. Lodge?


Q. Mrs. Dunnigan: for Mr. Lodge.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I never heard that. What Mr. Lodge is this?

Q. Mrs. Dunnigan: George Lodge.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't heard that.

I will say this: I have had some talks with Secretary Wilkins, who was talking about the possibility that he might resign from that particular position in the Labor Department. I have never urged him to nor asked him to, or anything else. I have had, as a matter of fact, a very congenial talk with him about it.

He is also, as you know, a member of the Commission on Civil Rights, and I remember that I said to him if ever he did decide he wanted to resign there, that I hoped he would keep his other position.

By the way, I never heard of any contemplated replacement for someone whose resignation I have not yet accepted.

Q. William H. Galbraith, Jr., United Press International: Mr. President, returning to the Geneva scientific agreement, sir, I wonder if you could tell us what you think that agreement means to prospects of overall disarmament?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I said in, I think it was to Mr. Drummond's question, any step like this that proves that you have a real agreement between intelligent people of both sides, gives grounds to hope that you can go another step; and every step that you go means you can go another one. That is your conviction; that is what we have been working on these 5 years.

Now, this agreement has not been quite crystallized, has not yet been signed--I believe there is some hope of signing it tomorrow--but there is every evidence that there has been real progress in the understanding between these scientific groups.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Camden Courier-Post: Sir, the Camden Courier-Post is a nonpartisan paper. We would like to know, in view of the statements that have been made in public lately, some from Secretary McElroy and General Twining and from various others, about the situation of our defenses, we would like to know if you consider this adequate?

THE PRESIDENT. I not only consider them adequate; they are the most powerful they have ever been in our whole history. They are completely capable of acting as the deterrents that they are expected to act as; and every day there are new developments, new inventions, new enlargements of these forces so as to make them even more satisfactory and efficient.

Indeed, in certain areas I would say we are spending too much money.

Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: Mr. President, in recent days there has been a confusion of reports about the stationing of U. S. Marine forces on Singapore with the consent of the British Government, and about the formation of a possible Middle East-Indian Ocean fleet. Can you say if the United States has any intention of taking either of these steps?

THE PRESIDENT. None whatsoever. These Marines were on some ships that have been out on cruises afloat, and it was time for them to stop in at a recreational place. The British Government said, "Surely," and so they are there; that is all there is to it.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, many persons in the country are fed up with rising prices and they are disappointed you have not exercised more vigorous leadership to combat them.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's go back to 1953 for a minute.

There was a great hue and cry to get rid of fixed controls over materials and services, and all that sort of thing, and they were abandoned; and for a very considerable time we had a very stable dollar, that is a very stable level of living costs. Then, starting with the really boom years of '55 and '56 and '57, we had these costs going up.

Now, the only thing you can do--or, there are three things probably: you can appeal to business and labor leaders constantly to try to stop the so-called wage-price spiral.

Another thing that the Government can do, as distinguished from the federal Board which is an independent agency of government: we can try to keep our costs down.

Now, this is the most difficult problem that I know of. I believe that when you are talking about costs of living you are talking about inflation. I believe that the federal Government has a very great responsibility in trying to do this.

As you know, I have vetoed several bills, some of them specifically because they were just too much money. Yet, only a year ago, remember, I was fighting for support in defense and other areas, where the Congress was cutting down what I believed to be necessary.

Now we seem to be on a spending cycle. So every bill that I get, whether it is a defense bill, whether it is the wage rates in the civil government, in the military government, everything you get, there are additional sums put in. So, to get any kind of legislation you constantly must be aware of the obvious congressional intention to spend more.

I believe this is a mistaken policy. I believe we should spend today only what we can show to be a very necessitous expenditure, so that the Government can first of all, by its limiting of expenditures, help avoid deficits or at least too big deficits; and, secondly, can show the example for good housekeeping and good fiscal arrangements, both in businesses and in the private home.

I think that I am not yet ready or have not suggested to anyone any definite controls. I still believe the free economy is a better way to fix the price levels than is Government fiat. I just don't believe in that.

Q. Mr. McGaffin: Mr. President, some people feel that it is futile for you to appeal to labor and management, as you have done, and has not brought results. They feel if you would take a tougher position that the steel industry, for instance, would not have gotten away with raising prices recently, which has started us off on another cycle of inflation.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think that you are there on a premise that is necessarily correct. Now they have raised some prices.

I am told that in the average household steel is involved in about one eighth of its expenditures, and moreover some slight rise in steel costs is not of itself a very great factor in living costs.

Now, I have asked people specifically, and in the generality of a press conference, to be very careful about this price business, to go for volume with lower prices rather than higher prices in the hope of higher profits; and I have asked labor leaders to do the same thing.

But I believe when you say take tougher position, now you are asking for specific controls, and if we are going to have a controlled economy, then I just don't know how you are going to work it.

Q. James P. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, this is about the comment you made at the U. N. on the question of indirect aggression.


Q. Mr. Reston: The theme has been developed by you and the Secretary, of State that unless this subversion and indirect aggression of the Soviet Union are stopped, we are headed for a big war. Now, is it conceivable that this kind of thing can be stopped once the threat of their army has been stopped by our power; are they not inevitably going to go to indirect aggression?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think there are two points: first, we did not say that we are going to have a big war if we don't stop this. I do say if they are going to continue it without any voluntary agreement of their own to limit or cease it, then I do say we are headed for much more trouble but not necessarily a big war.

The next thing is this: finally, developing circumstances tend to point out where are the best interests of all countries served.

I believe myself that if we can keep a sturdy course and a steady course, firm in what we believe to be right, finally even the Soviets begin to learn that it is not to their benefit to go in and try to buy, bribe, and subvert generally people that are themselves trying to live their own lives; because, finally, what all history shows, that when any dictatorship goes too far in its control, finally, whether it be the Roman Empire or Genghis Khan's or Napoleon's or anyone else's, just the very size of the thing begins to defeat them.

So I think there are characteristics in this whole thing--accepting your premise that they probably are not going to cease it forthwith-that finally will teach them this is not really a good, profitable enterprise. But it does mean this also: we have got to keep on the job forever and forever with our own measures to make certain that these small countries and weaker countries do not fall one by one prey to their methods.

Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and fortieth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:19 to 11:01 o'clock on Wednesday morning, August 20, 1958. In attendance: 176.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233865

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